GE Aviation has selected Boeing to support flight tests of its hybrid electric propulsion system using a modified Saab 340B aircraft and CT7-9B turboprop engines.
Boeing and its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences will provide aircraft modification, system integration and flight-testing services. The work includes nacelle manufacturing, flight deck interface design and software, aircraft-level performance analysis and systems integration.
Previously, NASA and GE Aviation announced the launch of a new research partnership to mature a megawatt (MW) class hybrid electric propulsion system to demonstrate flight readiness for single-aisle aircraft. Plans are to conduct ground and flight tests in the mid-2020s. The programme, part of NASA's Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) project, is a total $260 million effort that includes investments from NASA, GE Aviation, Boeing and other partners over five years.
“NASA's Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project is an opportunity for GE Aviation and Boeing to show hybrid electric propulsion is real and possible for the future of commercial flight, to reduce carbon emissions,” says GE Aviation vice president and general manager of engineering Mohamed Ali.
“We're inspired to be joining GE Aviation in demonstrating the viability of hybrid-electric propulsion technology,”adds Boeing chief technology officer and vice president and general manager of Boeing Research and Technology Naveed Hussain. “We're pleased to contribute our extensive research and testing of hybrid electric propulsion systems, including a longstanding development partnership with NASA, for a project that will no doubt be an important milestone on the path to more sustainable air travel.”
Aircraft systems engineering and testing work will be based at Aurora headquarters in Manassas, Virginia, with nacelle manufacturing taking place at facilities in Mississippi and West Virginia.
GE Aviation has been maturing components of high-power hybrid electric systems for more than a decade, including motors, generators power convertors and power management systems. Its electrification technologies are highly compatible with SAF and hydrogen, as well as advanced engine architectures such as the open fan and new compact engine core designs.